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Gardening

How to Grow Tomatoes in the Northwest

Transplanted from hot, old Missouri to the cool, wet Northwest 38 years ago, I have learned that it takes some extra doing to successfully grow tomatoes in the Northwest. It seems a big part of success is knowing what varieties to plant and when to plant.
Here, Seattle gardener and “Rake & Make” blogger Lily Warner, offers some great advice about “How to Grow tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest.”
1. A couple of weeks before I plan on planting my tomatoes, I heat the soil by covering it with plastic. That will start tomatoes off right and give them the soil warmth they love.
2. I try to pick good varieties that do well in my area. I like to get my starts at the Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale. They only carry varieties that will do well in this region and there are so many to choose from.
3. Plant in full sun. An ideal scenario for tomatoes would be an area that gets full sun and is near a wall that will warm up (and transfer heat to the tomatoes) and block wind.
4. Plant with proper amendments. I always amend all my beds with organic fertilizer in the Spring, but my tomatoes get more amendments when I plant them. For my planting hole, I dig it wide and deep. I then set the transplant, so it’s bottom set of leaves are at soil level. To each planting hole, I add a few inches of sifted compost, a handful of bone meal and a teaspoon of Epsom salts (for magnesium, which promotes productivity). I install my cages at the time of planting as well, so as not to disturb the roots.
5. I avoid transplant shock and keep the plants warm by covering them with plastic. I found some 33 gallon clear plastic bags that are just the right size and work great. I poke a few holes at the top to allow water to get through.
6. When planting tomatoes make sure you give them enough space, usually 2-3 feet at least. The plants need the space to enjoy airflow and to not spread disease.  
What are your tips for growing tomatoes?

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